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Saturday, June 12, 2021

A very powerful Tokyo Summer season Olympics story shouldn’t be associated to sports activities

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Thursday was the 50-day marker till the beginning of the Summer season Olympics in Tokyo — an Olympics that, in the event that they do get underway as anticipated, will likely be like no different. Sometimes, the Olympics are coated by information orgs as a sporting affair firstly. Sports activities commentators and journalists fan out throughout the host metropolis to cowl the competitions. And there will likely be numerous that protection when the video games start on July 23. However the larger and extra essential story is the one associated to public well being.

Covid infections in Japan stay at stubbornly excessive ranges — ranges a lot greater than when the video games have been delayed final 12 months. Japan has been off to a gradual begin vaccinating its residents and its well being care system is beneath stress. Asahi Shimbun, one of many nation’s largest newspapers, mirrored public sentiment late final month when it known as for the video games to be canceled.

However Japan has vowed to press forward. And so, in only a matter of weeks, tens of hundreds of athletes, coaches, workers, and members of the press will descend on Tokyo for the video games. This raises a large number of questions, together with whether or not the 2021 Olympics could possibly be remembered as a super-spreader occasion…

I spoke by cellphone on Thursday with Dr. Arthur Caplan, professor of medical ethics at NYU Grossman College of Medication. Caplan expressed vital fear that the press, to this point, has not accomplished a adequate job spotlighting the general public well being questions lingering over the video games. He acknowledged that there was some protection about whether or not the video games will likely be canceled or postponed, but it surely hasn’t been rigorous sufficient or touched on different public well being elements.

Certainly one of Caplan’s important worries is that within the US, life is getting again to regular and persons are getting bored with listening to about Covid, all of which might skew information protection. “For me there’s a large problem for media,” he mentioned. “There are tendencies to need to painting issues as again to regular … however a lot of the world shouldn’t be in that scenario.”

“All the large information retailers have an obligation to pay as a lot consideration to the general public well being facet because the sports activities facet,” Caplan added. “I believe it might be essential to not ignore the truth that many all through the world are in the course of public well being outbreaks whereas they ship delegations to play water polo or area hockey.”

Dr. Reiner’s questions

Dr. Jonathan Reiner, a CNN medical analyst and professor of medication and surgical procedure at GWU, burdened that “journalists must be asking in regards to the vaccination program in Japan,” amongst different issues.

A few of Reiner’s Qs: “Japan needs to conduct an infinite worldwide occasion involving many hundreds of individuals but the nation has solely totally vaccinated 3% of its inhabitants. Is it truthful to devour so many sources now for a sporting occasion? Would the cash and bodily sources be higher spent on getting extra Japanese vaccinated? Are the Olympic organizers mandating vaccines for all of the athletes? What are the ethics surrounding that when so many rivals are coming from international locations with out sturdy vaccination packages? Why deliver so many individuals collectively in Japan simply as they’re recovering from an enormous surge?”

Vaccination necessities?

Reiner wished to know whether or not the athletes will likely be required to be vaccinated, however the video games are a lot bigger than simply the rivals. Arguably extra essential: Will the hundreds of help workers and members of the worldwide press be required to indicate proof of vaccination to be in Tokyo to cowl the video games? It looks as if a easy query, however I could not get a solution after I reached out to the Worldwide Olympics Committee on Thursday.

The IOC outlined in late April different tips, together with requiring that members take two Covid checks earlier than flying to Japan and testing these “in shut proximity” to athletes each day. “All different Video games members will likely be examined each day for 3 days after their arrival,” the IOC mentioned. However nothing I might discover on vaccine necessities…

NBC centered on “presenting the Tokyo Video games”

I have been checking in with NBC to see how the community is planning for the video games, given the challenges and requires the video games to be canceled. Does the community have any contingency plans within the unlikely occasion the video games are scrapped? A spox advised me final week that the community’s focus “stays on presenting the Tokyo Video games to the American public on our platforms beginning on July 23…”

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